01.01.2010 - 05.02.2010 14 °C
How I gloated when I said goodbye to my friends in Taiwan, telling them I was about to move to the land of eternal sunshine. While I sat shivering in the midst of summer in England last year, my dad complained that he was overheating because the temperature had hit 74F (23C). As I went to retrieve the fleece blanket off my bed, I thought about walking round my new apartment in Egypt wearing shorts and a T-shirt while the hot sun beat on the sandy roads outside.
Of course when I arrived in Egypt last August my experience was all that I had imagined. It was hot (but not unbearable) and sunny every day. The only uncomfortable part of being in Egypt was having to wear modest clothes in order to avoid unwanted attention form the locals. As hot as I was wearing a T-shirt that covered my shoulders and trousers below the knee, I wouldn't have felt right in shorts and a spaghetti strap top. It's funny how your perspective changes when you're no longer a UK tourist fresh off the boat in the foreign country.
Well that was 6 months ago and now it's winter in Egypt. I came back from a very cold Christmas in England to a grey and chilly Al Rehab. I had expected Egypt to be a hot country all year round but temperatures have been regularly getting down to 8 or 9 degrees Celsius recently. As I sit here in a T-shirt, Hoody, Trousers and warm socks in my living room, the sky is covered in clouds and the temperature will probably struggle to hit 16C today. I'm not complaining, I'm just surprised and perhaps also relieved that this country doesn't offer fantastic weather all year round. It certainly makes the thought of leaving the place eventually easier to bear. Ironically enough, Taipei is 5 degrees hotter today than Cairo, but of course there it's raining!
So what is going on in Al Rehab during winter?
The pools at the sports club are closed, everyone is walking / driving around in thick winter coats, the food court restaurants have screens round their outside areas to shelter customers from the wind, and children seem to stay in doors more after school. That is except for the days when Egypt are about to play in the African Cup! Then the grassy areas between apartment buildings become a serious football training zone with all the local children joining in to play.
The Caledonian Society at my school organised a late Burn's Night Supper last weekend for about 30 people, hosted at the principal's villa. Normally a celebration held in Scotland, this year there were a number of people invited with a connection to Scotland or Ireland. I'm not a Scot and I don't really remember the Burn's Night suppers I had while at University. But having lived in Scotland for 9 years it did bring back some memories of songs and poems I struggled to understand let alone teach to the local Scottish kids at my school in West Dunbartonshire. It was a nice atmosphere, being around teachers from my school in Egypt, listening to amusing speeches and renditions in old Scots dialect, eating Scottish food and seeing various members of staff drunk on Ballantines Whiskey.
Chinese Culture Week
This is the first year I won't have spent Chinese New Year in Taiwan for 3 years. While living in Taiwan I saw the move from year of the pig, to rat to ox and I feel a bit strange that I won't get to see the wood carvings, and tacky decorations for the year of the tiger, especially since it's the coolest animal in the Chinese zodiac. Strangely enough, there is going to be a Chinese Culture Week in Al Rehab starting tonight, at a location less than 5 minutes walk from my apartment, so I 'm looking forward to drinking some good tea and reminding myself why I'm considering a move to China after leaving Egypt.